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Products of Tomorrow: April 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Products of Tomorrow: March 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Research and development

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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics, Robotics, Alloys, Glass, Gears, Durability, Spacecraft

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Spinoff: Wireless Platform Integrates Sensors with Smartphones

The platform, developed using NASA nanotechnology, paved the way for interchangeable smartphone sensors.In 2007, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a call for a sensor that could equip a smartphone with the ability to detect dangerous gases and chemicals, Ames Research Center scientist Jing Li had a ready response. Four years earlier, she led a team that wrote a paper on the use of carbon nanotube sensors for gas and organic vapor detection.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Nanotechnology, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Chemicals, Gases, Nanotechnology

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Designing for 3D Printing

3D printing has progressed over the past decade to include multimaterial fabrication, enabling production of powerful, functional objects. While many advances have been made, it still has been difficult for non-programmers to create objects made of many materials (or mixtures of materials) without a more user-friendly interface.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Simulation Software, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Rapid prototyping, Additive manufacturing

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Precision Coffeemaker Adapts Brews to Beans and Taste

NASA’s embedded communications technology and PID controllers play key roles in coffee brewing system.Technology often takes circuitous paths. A magnetron developed for precision bombing during World War II led to the microwave oven, and a battery-powered drill created for collecting samples of Moon rock gave birth to the Dustbuster. Likewise, one student’s NASA experience with autonomous robotic vehicles has informed the creation of one of the world’s most sophisticated coffee machines.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Communications, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Human machine interface (HMI), Robotics

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2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

SHAPE MEMORY ALLOY BASED SAFETY LATCH Nicholas W. Pinto, Suresh Gopalakrishnan, Chandra S. Namuduri, Nancy L. Johnson, and Mark Vann General Motors, Warren, MIGeneral Motors has invented a device that indicates when an unsafe level of energy remains in an electrical panel box after the main power has been disconnected. Possible sources of this energy may be incorrect wiring, external device add-ons, and the presence of residual charge from capacitors. The device works by engaging a safety latch mechanism built with shape memory alloy (SMA) technology along with an audio or visual alarm.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Automation, Robotics, Alloys, Smart materials, Hardware, Restraint systems

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